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June 28, 2006


Alex Cockburn records a poll of 'one'. Just a little inside info
on one of the Liberally Biased Media's most respected Warmongers.

Hitchens Hails "Glorious War"

The recent memorial for long-term New York Review co-editor Barbara Epstein, sadly felled by cancer on June 15, was disfigured by an unseemly outbursts from Christopher Hitchens. There was a list of invitees for the private ceremony and C. Hitchens -- a sometime NYT contributor ­ was not on the list. He implored to be admitted, and some misguidedly decent soul gave him the green light.

Visibly taken with drink, in the estimate of at least one observer, Hitchens showed up and soon made his way to Jean Stein, a close friend of Barbara Epstein, also editor of Grand Street in recent years. Hitchens spared Stein the habitual presentation of his hairy cheek but made a low, facetious bow and offered his hand.

Stein icily declined, saying she had no desire to shake hands with him for many reasons, not least the fact that Hitchens had attacked one of her best friends, Edward Said, while he was on his death bed.

As Hitchens retreated, someone remarked to him, "So your glorious war has turned out to be a total disaster, hasn't it?"

"It is glorious," the sodden scrivener blared, "and it is my war because it needed Paul Wolfowitz and myself to go and convince the President to go to war."

As mourners digested this megalomanic outburst, Hitchens continued, "And we are going to kill every Al Qaida terrist and Baathist in the country and that's a good thing. They need to be killed and we will kill them."

Wow. Interesting post above.

Re the politcial climate, this from First Read:

Is Missouri reflecting the nation's mood now? A recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch/KMOV-TV/Research 2000 poll showed Bush's job approval rating at 39% and McCaskill leading Talent, 49%-43%. "Talent's chief problem appears to be that he is from the same party as President Bush," Nathan Gonzales recently wrote in the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report, "so if the GOP senator is defeated, plenty of other House and Senate Republicans are likely to be defeated as well." More: "McCaskill is a credible challenger, but she would be a clear underdog in a neutral national political environment in a state that has been moving into the GOP column." Gonzales concluded that Talent will try to make the race about McCaskill. But if it turns into a referendum on Bush, he said, "Talent is in significant trouble."

Speaking of referendums on Bush, check UT, not always fertile territory for Dems.

The outcome is the latest in a string of failures by anti-immigration groups to unseat congressional Republicans who favor a guest worker program. Cannon had been targeted before, but the fight was never as intense as it was this year.

Early polls showed the race at a statistical dead heat, and challenger Jacob won a majority of delegates' votes at the state Republican convention. Cannon, who had championed unsuccessful bills in the House of Representatives to legalize undocumented agricultural workers and allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public universities, touted his toughness on illegal immigration.

But Jacob did himself no favors. Last week he blamed Satan for his business problems, and despite attacking Cannon on immigration, he readily confessed he did not know what to do to solve the problem. "I can't give you those details because I don't have them yet," he told the Salt Lake Tribune.

So if I'm reading it right, Cilizza's summary of the pro-deadline and con could be read, with the exception of the regional attribute, as a description of people most likely and least likely to have a close friend or relative in the military.

I wonder how many children of the 50-64 yr old anti-deadline southerners making $100,000+ a year are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Prediction: As the war drags on, those who oppose a timetable will switch to support of one, just has already happened with more and more people. Right now, of course, one of the big charges against those of us who have supported a timetable since before Russ Feingold first suggested one are still being called "naive," among other things, by those who see a timetable as enabling al-Qaidah and the insurgency. And because of the gender gap, I guess women are preternaturally more naive about such matters. Kind of reminds me of the attacks on Pat Schroeder in her brief flirtation with a presidential run. One of the complaints at the time was that, as a woman, she wouldn't be interested in important presidential matters like "missile throw-weights." Pretty laughable considering that she sat on the House Arms Services Committee for decades.

Some of us support a timetable as a second-best option to Out Now. Because, in truth, a gradual, phased withdrawal with or without a timetable risks American lives more than a quick departure of the kind the Russians finally made in Afghanistan.

I wonder how many children of the 50-64 yr old anti-deadline southerners making $100,000+ a year are serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Probably the same number as the children of anyone else making $100,000+ - the southern aristocracy has always on the moron stupidity of the rest of southern males, that they will go fight and die in defense of a system purposefully stacked against them. It's been going on now for 200 years.

There is anecdotal evidence from as disparate places as MO and CT that the usual GOP strategy isn't working so well this time. It seems that (ironcally) the absence of anti-war demonstrations has allowed a majority of the public to conclude, more or less on their own, that the war is a mess, and to further conclude (especially after Katrina) that Bush and the GOP have no plan on anything but to transfer more wealth to the wealthy. Except gay marriage, flag burning, and calls of treason against anyone who complains.

I've done no peer-tested research on this, Mimikatz, and some will probably say I'm just trying to self-justify, but I think one reason for the widespread opposition to the U.S. role in Iraq right now is the experience of Vietnam. It took what seemed like forever for the (bare) majority of Americans to turn against Vietnam. In part, I think, due to a pre-Vietnam attitude about not questioning authority, as well as the sentiment engendered by "the good war" of the '40s. This time around, it didn't take a lot of demonstrations to persuade people to turn against the war. People like my late stepfather took forever to change their minds in the Vietnam era - he and I did not speak for five years because of my opposition to that war - but this time he looked at the situation critically from the beginning.

We have a wealth of people passing along to the new generation a willingness to engage in the broad questioning that took years and 25,000 American deaths to develop four decades ago.

I'm not saying this is the only reason for opposition, but I think it's a piece.

Per your VN reference and the glacial creep of the Hard-liners
toward a negative pov, it took about 20 years for the Nixon
Ordo Templi to grudgingly accept his tainted historical visage.

So too, with Iraq. It is the SOP of the 'resolute' (or, pig-headed) to stick to their story in spite of the glaring facts.
It is both their strength, and their weakness.

Meteor Blades, I think you're right that people were more poised to go into opposition with this war than they were during Vietnam -- though I've always though the Korean stalemate did something to facilitate initial souring on Vietnam, for the majority of the country back then, World War II was the model of choice, and they couldn't fathom the idea the US was losing and/or mistaken. That we were still at each others' throats well into Nixon's term -- 5-6 years after the escalation -- tells you how slow the public was to come around.

And Mimikatz, I think you're correct, too, that the absence of heavily organized resistance -- so easy to demonize, especially with a pre-disposed press -- has enabled citizens to figure the war thing out for themselves. The mood of the country on Election Day will probably most match that of November 1966, when the GOP wasn't making loud noise about leaving Vietnam, but nonetheless reaped many of the votes of those unhappy with how things were going.

MB--I think ypu are right. When you and I were protesting Vietnam, our parents of the GI Generation were counseling patience and caution.

Another difference: Unlike the Vietnam "mission creep", this time, like Gulf War I, we had a debate and then launched a full-scale invasion. So, many people were against Iraq from the beginning, and others, seeing it wasn't going to be a replay of GWI, turned against the war as it turned into more and more of a quagmire. I meant, as demtom said, the lack of demonstrators to demonize. Maybe our side learned more than we thought. Certainly we learned to avoid reflexive anti-Americanism and animosity toward the troops, one reason why the GOP's charges don't stick so well this time.

Certainly there were many in the antiwar movement who were reflexively "anti-American," but, and I say this as someone who was in SDS from 1965-1969, much of that demonization and allegations of animosity toward the troops was a media creation. Most - certainly not all - of the activists I was involved with worked hard to make connections with soldiers, through the coffeehouse movement and at bars and other venues near military bases. We worked hard to assist returning vets deal with issues of PTSD, joblessness and homelessness.

Yes, there were quite a few in the movement who spewed "baby-killer" too freely, and even some, I'm sure, who may have spit on a soldier or two, although, as research has shown, this is 99% canard. It was the comparative few - some of whom, as it transpired later, turned out to be cop infiltrators - whose protest antics and tactics (bombing, for instance) got the most media attention and continue to inform people's perspective of those years today.

For the record, I'm not denying that there were assholes - both ideologically and otherwise - who saner antiwarriors should have done a better job of curtailing.

Another thing that made demonstrators easier to stigmatize in that era -- way beyond the facts, I agree -- was their (easily characterized as) contempt for so many of society's standards: whether dress, hair length, language, openness to drug use, whatever (and I was certainly guilty of most if not all). What seemed liberating to us was utterly alien to many, and I can see, in retrospect, why so many thought the entire society was cracking apart -- which is partly why they weren't inclined to listen long enough to decide if we had a point about the war.

True, demtom. In today's world of purple hair streaks, pierced eyebrows, bare midriffs (or was that last year?), f***ing Deadwood, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and all the rest, the cultural shift that shocked even liberals are passe and more easily divorced from the political discussion.

On the other hand, creating an alternative culture gave the anti-Vietnam generation a place to stand/sit/jump up and down that I find that contemporary young anti-war folks lack -- and yearn for.

Sorry to come to this late: first no hard drive for awhile, now fighting with Blogger to stop labeling my blog "spam"! That's our new culture. :-)

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